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STAGE WATCH

Public Stage Offers Two Theaters But One Mind

June 05, 1986|SYLVIE DRAKE | Times Theater Writer

"We've been engaged for about a year and now we've decided to get married.

"We're going to tie the knot.

"We're going to call it Public Stage/L.A. Basically, Public Stage at the Coronet and Public Stage on Canon."

The voices talking over each other Monday, racing ahead at such joint purposes, were those of Susan Dietz (artistic director of L.A. Stage Co.) and Peg Yorkin (artistic director of the L.A. Public Theatre), the two most active operators of mid-size theaters in Los Angeles. As Dietz finally put it:

"We're merging the two organizations. It doesn't really alter anything; we've been producing together for about a year, and now it's official. Currently (running) we have 'A Woman of Independent Means,' 'Mrs. California' and Steven Banks" (performing at the Equity Waiver Chamber Theatre).

So Suzie has moved in with Peg. How does that make things better?

"A perfect example," Yorkin said, "is when 'Tracers' (a Dietz/Yorkin co-production) went to the Annenberg (Theatre in Philadelphia). Suzie went with them. I stayed here to negotiate the Australia engagement."

"It doubles our strength," Dietz seconded. "It's very difficult to do what we do now in Los Angeles. Los Angeles has so many theaters, so many producing entities, that unless we form alliances to build our audiences, we're just cutting the pie into more pieces."

"Another thing," Yorkin emphasized, "is that agents would pitch one of us against the other (something they can no longer do). And we can benefit from cross-marketing. People who come to see 'Woman' are pitched to see 'Mrs. California.' We also think alike."

Added Dietz: "We work alike, which may be more important."

As for projects, they encompass a good deal more than theater.

"We're bringing the Klezmorim back to Los Angeles," Dietz said, "not just to bring them back, but to develop a theater piece with them."

The Klezmorim, a six-man group of improvisational musician-performers who create their own unique environment and style, will be presented at Theatre West June 19 to July 6, sponsored in part by the California Arts Council.

Next for Public Stage/L.A. is "Broadway on Canon," a July 2 benefit for the Actors' Fund.

"It's an evening of musical comedy," Dietz explained. "Dick Shawn and Robert Morse will host. Ron Abel will be musical director and Gordon Hunt directs."

As for theater as in plays, the Public Stage/L.A. hopes to mount a full-fledged production of William Gibson's anti-nuclear "Handy Dandy" with James Whitmore and Audra Lindley, and a new play by John ("Delirious") Bunzel called "Death of a Buick." Both would be done in the fall. And there's more.

"Eleanor Smeal has asked me if I would be the chair for the 20th anniversary of NOW at the Kennedy Center Oct. 28," Yorkin added, "and if I would produce it as well. So the new company will produce."

"You should also know," Dietz said, "that we're involved with the new Michael Rupert/Jerry Colker musical called 'Mail.' (Rupert and Colker created "Three Guys Naked From the Waist Down.")

"The Boston Shakespeare Company has expressed an interest in it and it may be workshopped here. Eventually we want to put a Los Angeles production together, but it's a long way down the road."

However rosy--and varied--the future looks, the present is slightly grayish. Business at both Public Stages--at the Coronet and on Canon--is steady but not booming. Both theaters are expected to be dark for much of the summer.

PRIME PIRANDELLO: The director of Teatro di Roma, Maurizio Scaparro, who brought "La Venexiana" (1985) and a film/stage "Don Chisciotte" (1984) to UCLA, is back in town this week to stage an evening of scenes from Pirandello plays, novels and short stories June 16 at the Doolittle Theatre.

The one-night event will honor the 50th anniversary of the Italian playwright's death, feature a galaxy of stars and benefit the UCLA Center for Advanced Research in the Performing Arts and the Italian Cultural Foundation.

Participating in "Hollywood's Salute to Pirandello" will be Anthony Franciosa, Julie Harris, John Houseman, Amy Irving, Michael York and Italian actors Mariangela Melato and Pino Micol.

Information: (213) 826-5998.

A NEW HOME: Murray Mednick's perennial and recently beleaguered Padua Hills Playwrights' Workshop has found a home at Loyola Marymount University (where the session begins July 7) that may become permanent.

"As permanent as it can be," Mednick said. "We have the use of all facilities, including three theaters, workshop space. And they'll help us with printing and publicity.

"We'll have a full festival this year--five plays, opening July 31 for three weeks. Then we take a two-week break and perform them in the Balcony Theatre at the Pasadena Playhouse in September, and then go on to the Theatre for the New City in New York for a month, in mid-October.

"We hope the added performance dates will become annual, but first we'll see how we do."

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